Recently Read: Lolita by Nabokov


The first lines hooked me.

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.” ~Vladimir Nabokov

I’ll admit, that’s the sole reason I wanted to read the book. It turned out to be a poor reason. And the signs are in those first lines, though I didn’t see them. I thought this might be more palatable, digestible, even rational for me, but it was none of those things. I thought the whole book might be as lyrical as those first lines.

As I got into this book, farther and further from the poetic first lines, I began to get a clearer picture of what this book is. With its flowery language, and its sensual themes, Lolita is one of the original romance novels. Maybe it’s the original romance novel. I’m not entirely sure; are there others like it out there? I picked it up thinking “Classic Literature”, but I didn’t find classic or literature. I found modern day pedophilia. I found old day pedophilia.

Debauchery isn’t given new life because of Nabokov’s literary coverage of the subject. It remains what it is.

Nabokov, through his main character, Humbert Humbert, tries to rationalize the emotions and dramas and fogs of the diseased mentality. But for me, the whole rationalization was completely transparent. It was easy to see through, like as if the book was made of acrylic instead of paper. I struggled to read as much as I did. Honestly, I couldn’t finish the thing. It might appeal to a more pulverized conscience than mine, or someone who enjoys reading novels of the romance category. If you value women or children though, you probably won’t find this book very interesting. If you’re of a pubescent humor, and you like to say things like, “Spanktastic!” then you might enjoy this book.

As for me, I quit reading Lolita early so I could go find a more tasteful entertainment somewhere else.

  1. Drawing power: The first lines drew me in, though in hindsight, they shouldn’t have.
  2. Interest factor: Is the story something you want to hear, see, know? Not this reader. Are you craving to discover how it ends? No. I don’t care one bit.
  3. Offensive factor: Does it present sex, violence, cursing too abundantly or too vividly? It handles sexual topics in a mostly subtle way. Does it present an agenda? It does have a strange agenda.
  4. Range of emotion: Do the jokes come at appropriate times? There are no jokes. Does it present emotions at pleasing intervals? Too much of the same emotion.
  5. Character factor: Are there quality protagonists/antagonists in the literary work? The main character is presented as a gentleman with desires. Okay, so maybe there are jokes. Is the narrator mostly invisible? No. I saw Nabokov himself writing his character’s lines.
  6. Style: It has quality style in the word manipulation.
  7. Proper length: TL;DR

Final count 2 of 7 stars.

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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